A Chula Vista woman was able to change her flight last minute so she could be by her dying mother’s side but getting the airline to refund her for the difference in price proved to be harder to land.
Mary Anne Gallant enjoys looking at family photos of her mother and big family from New York.
“This was taken at Sleepy Hollow Country Club on Thanksgiving,” Mary Anne said.
Mary Anne knew her mother’s health was failing when she bought an airline ticket to the east coast to visit her. A few weeks before her scheduled trip, she received an urgent call.
“I got a phone call from my sister Kathy and she basically told me I better get out there sooner,” Mary Anne said.
Their 93-year-old mother was gravely ill. Mary Anne canceled her American Airlines ticket and bought a new ticket departing the next day.
“I figured I’ll get there first and then afterwards I’ll worry about trying to work something out with the airline for a refund,” Mary Anne said.
The family gathered and Mary Anne knew she made the right decision about leaving early.
“They told us we’d have about 24 or 48 hours and she died that night,” Mary Anne said.
After the passing of her mother, Mary Anne turned her attention to her airline ticket. She felt because of the circumstances of her mother’s death, that the airline should refund the difference and change fees between her original $500 ticket and her last minute $1,100 fare.
An employee for American Airlines communicated with Mary Anne through email and agreed to a partial refund as long as she provided the necessary documentation proving her mother’s death.
“My brother sent me a copy of the death certificate, the obituary and I sent all of that to American Airlines,” Mary Anne said.
Months later the money never arrived. So, Mary Anne turned to NBC 7 Responds.
NBC 7 Responds found bereavement airfare discounts are becoming a thing of the past for most major airlines. American Airlines stopped their bereavement airfare discounts all together in 2014.
But since American Airlines had already agreed to a partial refund for Mary Anne, we reached out to American Airlines and within a few days, Mary Anne received some good news.
“He told me in about a week to 10 days, I’ll see the refund in my account,” Mary Anne said.
A representative from American Airlines told NBC 7 Responds the reason for stopping bereavement airfare discounts came down to the likelihood of finding an affordable, last minute ticket to a destination. Because of that, Airlines recommend contacting their customer relations department first before making any flight changes.
NBC 7 Responds was told customer relations departments can often remove change fees or find something in your range if you contact them before cancelling pre-existing flights.